A kippah; also spelled as kippa, kipa, kipah; Hebrew: כִּיפָּה, plural: כִּיפּוֹת kippot; Yiddish: קאפל koppel, or yarmulke, is a brimless cap, usually made of cloth, traditionally worn by Jewish males to fulfill the customary requirement that the head be covered.
A kippah (/kɪˈpɑː/, /kiˈpɑː/; also spelled as kippa, kipa, kipah; Hebrew: כִּיפָּה, plural: Hebrew: כִּיפּוֹת kippot; Yiddish: קאפל koppel), or yarmulke (/ˈjɑːrməlkə/, /ˈjɑːməkə/, Yiddish: יאַרמלקע), is a brimless cap, usually made of cloth, traditionally worn by Jewish males to fulfill the customary requirement that the head is covered. It is worn by men in Orthodox communities at all times. Among non-Orthodox communities, those who wear them customarily do so only during prayer, while attending a synagogue, or in other rituals. Most synagogues and Jewish funeral parlors keep a ready supply of kippot.
The term kippah (Hebrew: כיפה) literally means “dome”, as the kippah is worn on the head like a dome. The Yiddish term yarmulke might be derived from Polish jarmułka or Ukrainian yarmulka, perhaps ultimately from Medieval Latin almutia “cowl, hood” or of Turkic origin (akin to yağmurluk, meaning “rainwear”), although it is often associated with an Aramaic phrase (ירא מלכא) meaning “fear the King”. Keppel or Koppel is another Yiddish term for the same thing.
Types and variation
Often, the color and fabric of the kippah can be a sign of adherence to a specific religious movement, particularly in Israel. Knitted or crocheted kippot, known as kippot serugot, are usually worn by Religious Zionists and the Modern Orthodox. They also wear suede or leather kippot. Members of most Haredi groups wear black velvet or cloth kippot.
More recently, kippot have been observed made in the colors of sports teams, especially football. In the United States, children’s kippot featuring cartoon characters or themes such as Star Wars are popular. (In response to this trend, some Jewish schools have banned kippot with characters that do not conform to traditional Jewish values.) Kippot have been inscribed on the inside as a souvenir for a celebration (bar/bat mitzvah or wedding). Kippot for women are also being made and worn. These are sometimes made of beaded wire to seem more feminine. A special baby kippah has two strings on each side to fasten it and is often used in a brit milah ceremony.